An unusual bout of optimism descended on Planet Leeds this after week three straight wins for the mighty whites. Yes the cynics will say it’s against two sides who are firmly rooted in the relegation zone but you can only beat what’s in front of you. Mick McCarthy’s Tractor boys would be a different proposition though. The Suffolk side would certainly test Monk’s West Yorkshire disciples with their robust approach to the game. Could the Elland Road men continue their winning run? Will Hernandez weave his undoubted magic again? Can Wood score again? All topics to debate as we made our way to the Theatre of Hope for Leeds’ latest Championship encounter with Ipswich Town.
There was just one change to the side that prevailed in Cardiff with Phillips replacing Vieira in midfield alongside O’Kane. Jansson had thankfully recovered from the fever that kept him out of the cup win in midweek and any worries that he wasn’t fit were dispelled within 45 seconds as he won two headers to clear early Ipswich attacks. The Swede, with his strange new hair cut, then won a free kick from an Ipswich corner as he bullied the Ipswich attackers out of the way. Excellent! Leeds were looking good and soon took a vice like grip on the game with this new attractive, confident style of play. Chris Wood looks a different player and on 10 minutes brought the crowd to their feet with a thundering shot from 25 yards that clattered off the Ipswich post with Bailkowski well beaten in the visitors goal. The home crowd devoured the bright start and soon had the ground bouncing.
Ipswich threatened themselves when Skuse had a shot deflected agonisingly close to Rob Green’s post and away for a corner. Corners don’t bring the sheer dread they did to fans just a few weeks ago and that’s all down to the way Jansson, with the help of Bartley, have got the defence organised. Anything in the air Jansson heads away anything on the floor is tackled with controlled aggression that has been so lacking in our defence for what seems like a millennium. It was after one such “controlled aggression”tackle from Jansson that Brett Pitman was left prostrate on the Elland Road turf thinking he’d just been hit by an Express train. To me it was poetry in motion! 10 minutes later after more forensic attention from Jansson Pitman hobbled off the field shaking his head. All of a sudden we have a team not to be messed with.
Leeds were playing some lovely football that drew oohs and ahhs from the adoring crowd with Hernandez, Sacko and Wood excelling. How different from just two short weeks ago against Huddersfield? The inevitable Leeds goal came on 35 minutes after a move of Arsenal type proportions as the men in white pinged the ball through nearly the entire team to eventually release Taylor near the bye line…………Wood drifted off his marker in the box and the left back found him with a delightful cross. 1.0 Leeds and the home fans were in a state of some disbelief. Their team were playing scintillating football and nobody was moaning in the stands. Unbelievable.
Leeds continued to move smoothly through the gears as the game headed for half time. Sacko then Hernandez would tease the Ipswich flanks. O’Kane and Phillips were peerless in midfield and the granite like defence were in extra mean mood. Life was good. Half Time 1.0 Leeds. There was something odd about the urinal philosophers that took me by surprise……….they were all smiling! Never in the history the Gents Half Time debate have I seen every single urinal philosopher smiling. Unbelievable Jeff! They were smiling because Leeds were playing good attractive attacking football and had totally dominated the first half. Could they carry on in the second period though?
The answer to that question was immediately apparent. Yes. Hernandez was targetted by a clear Mick Mccarthy tactic, chop him down, but it didn’t phase the ex Swansea man he just got back up and teased Ipswich even more. Leeds were breaking quickly and chances were being created but the 2nd goal refused to come. Wood had a couple of shots blocked Sacko wasted a good chance firing into the kop as the highly tuned Leeds machine continued to destroy Ipswich. This was Wood’s best game in a Leeds shirt by a country mile. Every pass stuck to him like glue, every lay off went to a white shirt and every channel he ran he came up with the ball. Surely the drug testers will be waiting for him when he leaves the pitch? On 70 minutes Phillips tried to reprise his free kick goal at Forest only to see his fierce shot tipped over th bar.
It may have been just 1.0 but Leeds were strolling in an almost dismissive attitude to anything Ipswich tried. Either Jansson or Bartley just had to glare at an attack and it was repelled or so it seemed. Mowatt, Grimes and Roofe got a run out for the last part of the game, Sacko missed a sitter to wrap the game up as Leeds dominated right to the final whistle. Full time 1.0 Leeds. Wow! This was the best team performance from Leeds since we beat a certain team at Old Trafford in 2010. Every man won their individual battles, very few passes went astray, the defence was rock solid and we looked dangerous every time we attacked. Wood was my man of the match but in some ways it is churlish to pick one player out when it was such an excellent team performance. Special mention for Phillips though. He really played well alongside O’Kane who has brought much needed experience to this Leeds team. Ipswich looked bedraggled as they left the pitch. They knew they’d been well and truly beaten. Credit to Garry Monk for sticking to his principles. The shining light at the end of the tunnel was dazzling today. Can we make 5 from 5 at Bristol? Course we can!